I think that you shouldn't simply recolour someone's character and call it your own, that's bad. But you can take certain features from several characters and combine them to make your own. That's how I came up with most of the characters I drew.
As others said, it's okay to an extent I think. If it's just a recolor of another character, then I don't think that's a great idea.
When looking for inspiration, those more famous artists usually draw on the personalities and features of the people they know in real life, or adapt some (not all) qualities they like in another established character. I think that's the way to go.
Don't worry. I know not to do that. I've been creating original characters since I was in elementary school you know.
Lol. I actually did make some characters based off of people I know in real life. Unfortunately one person found out so I had to recolor that one character in order to not get in trouble, lol. Ironic, huh?